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Trout Farming Proposal a “Dead Loss” for NZ

13th December 2018

A petition of a former salmon farmer calling on Parliament to pass law allowing commercial trout farming has been criticised by a national trout and rivers advocacy as ridiculous, short-sighted and “a dead loss” for New Zealand. Graham Carter, of Hamilton, president of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) said trout farming was of insignificant economic value alongside the value of trout fishing, while there were also environmental and social detriments.

"Trout farming is a capital intensive, marginally economic, high risk venture that would put New Zealand’s highly valuable recreational trout fishery at risk,” said Graham Carter.

His comments were in reaction to a petition by a former salmon farmer Clive Barker, now resident in Marlborough, in a petition to Parliament’s Primary Production Committee.

Graham Carter said Mr Barker should know well the pitfalls and high risk aspect of fish farming as in the 1970’s he endeavoured to set up in the South Island’s Golden Bay, ocean ranching of salmon by releasing juvenile fish that in theory would return. At the time NZFFA spokesman Tony Orman predicted the venture would fail largely due to excessively warm Golden Bay saltwater temperatures and uncertain economics on world markets.

Trout farming is prohibited under the Conservation Act and Fisheries Act. In the early 1970’s salmon and trout farming were both considered, but the government decided to only allow salmon farming due to the high risks involved with trout farming.

Fish farms were based on potentially crowded conditions as farmers strived to make the marginal farms economic, thus heightening the potential for fish diseases.

There were threats to NZ’s wild trout fishery that has a probable value of one billion dollars annually in domestic and international tourism and dollar generation within the economy. One estimate 20 years ago estimated the NZ sports trout fishery was worth over $700 m annually.

“Adding inflation, that’s probably today a billion dollars annually,” said Graham Carter.

New Zealand has a winner economically, environmentally and socially in its wild fishery.

He said placing a dollar value on trout by trout farming and associated sale of trout, up till now prohibited, would mushroom poaching.

“Anyone can see with deer and sea fish resources like paua and crayfish, that putting a dollar value results in uncontrollable poaching and black markets.”

Inevitable escaped fish from fish farms endangered the genetic base of wild fisheries that have evolved their own special genetics over 150 years.

Graham Carter said trout from a fish farm were a poor product especially compared to wild trout. Farmed trout in overseas shops were wrinkled, drab and insipid tasting specimens.

Instead of allowing trout farming, the Government and its ministries should be concentrating on bringing sea fish to the NZ consumer at an affordable price.

“Sea fish is ridiculously highly priced compared to farm meat which required inputs of grass production and farming costs.

NZFFA would be vigorously opposing the intent of the petition of a would-be, former fish farmer,” said Graham Carter.


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